Ardor vs. the Competition, Closing Remarks

This is the final installment of a series of articles that compares Ardor to other blockchain projects with similar features or goals. You can find the rest of the series here:

Or you can download the complete series as a free ebook here: Ardor vs The Competition

This series started with a brief, informal reddit post with my initial reactions to the Plasma paper. I didn’t know at the time that it would launch me on a tour of half a dozen other cryptocurrency projects, ranging from sidechain platforms (Lisk, Stratis, arguably Komodo) to colored-coins platforms with unique features (NEM, Waves), to a project that eschews the blockchain altogether in favor of a completely different data structure (IOTA). Now that we have come full-circle, with the last two articles focusing once again on Ethereum, I think we have reached a good place to conclude.

This series has covered a lot of ground, and I won’t attempt to summarize everything here. Instead, I would like to share my thoughts on an overarching theme that emerged from my research on these projects.

Scaling Securely

As I’ve mentioned before, my primary interest throughout this series has been to survey various approaches to the difficult problem of scaling a blockchain. What I’ve learned is that there are many different strategies, but most involve a trade-off with security. I am certainly not the first one to make this observation, but I think it bears repeating here in the context of this series.

At one end of the spectrum, the most secure way to launch a new blockchain project is probably to issue a token on an existing blockchain that has already secured itself. This is the colored-coins approach that Nxt, NEM, Waves, and Ethereum use, for example. Transactions involving these tokens are recorded directly on the underlying blockchain and are therefore just as secure as any other transactions on it.

The obvious drawback of this approach is that it doesn’t scale particularly well: every node on the network must process all transactions involving all tokens on the blockchain, even if the projects that those tokens represent have nothing to do with one another. Moreover, all of this transaction data is stored forever on the same blockchain, bloating it at a rate proportional to the combined transaction volume of all of the projects running on it.

So-called “vertical” scaling methods, which aim to allow each node to do the same amount of work faster, or store the same amount of data more efficiently, are the natural way to scale this strategy. NEM’s Catapult project is a good example, as it focuses on optimizing the full client’s code and the communication protocol used on the network. Waves NG, an optimization of the forging protocol, is another example.

This approach to scaling ultimately runs into limits, though. At some point, adding enough users and transactions will break these designs, and the only viable option is some form of “horizontal” scaling, where each node on the network processes and stores only a subset of all transactions.

One reasonable way to scale a blockchain platform horizontally is to push each project onto its own independent blockchain, which is the approach that sidechain platforms like Lisk and Stratis are taking. This approach occupies the other end of the security-scalability spectrum: it naturally partitions both the total computational work and storage required to run the platform and allows different nodes to handle each partition, but this scaling comes at the cost of decreased security. Specifically, with N projects running on a sidechain platform, the weakest sidechain is secured by at most 1/N of the total miners or forgers, and likely far fewer than that, especially in its infancy.

Ardor partially transcends the security-scalability spectrum, successfully partitioning the storage of child chain data without sacrificing security. The price of this benefit is that the entire network must still process each transaction. It will be interesting to see the details of Jelurida’s plan to push child chain transaction processing onto dedicated subnets of the network, which would provide the missing computational and bandwidth scaling, but until then, we must refrain from speculating.

IOTA is a bit of a special case, as its design is fundamentally different from a blockchain in a couple of important ways. Without rehashing the whole mechanism of “eventual consensus” on the tangle, allow me to say that IOTA’s tangle (as it is implemented today) seems to me to be primarily a form of vertical scaling, with an element of horizontal scaling. Each node sees and stores every transaction, and although nodes can continuously prune the tangle over time, reducing the storage requirement, “permanodes” on the network must still store the entire history of the tangle in order to bootstrap new nodes trustlessly. On the other hand, nodes do not necessarily need to validate each transaction, as they can accept transactions that are sufficiently deep in the tangle as having been confirmed by other nodes on the network as long as they are referenced by all tips.

In other words, IOTA partitions the computational work required to validate transactions, but not the bandwidth required to relay them or the data that must be stored.

Eventually, IOTA plans to introduce “swarm” nodes to divide up the work of transaction validation and tangle storage. This will be a form of full horizontal partitioning, but I have not yet been able to find technical details, so in my opinion, it belongs in the same category as Ethereum’s Plasma and sharding proposals: a plausible-sounding idea that needs further development before it can be accepted as a real solution.

On that note, I’d like to make one final point about Ardor’s approach towards scaling: while it is not a panacea, at least at this early stage, it is important not to understate the value of an architecture that exists and actually works. Perhaps it goes without saying, but Ardor’s developers are not just hypothesizing about theoretical solutions to a difficult problem. They have proven that they can devise an ambitious but realistic design, implement it in a reasonable time frame, and in doing so make substantial, concrete progress towards a truly scalable blockchain. Not every team can make those claims, no matter how promising their initial ideas sound.

Final Thoughts

There is plenty more to be said about all of these projects, but this will have to suffice for now. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading these articles even half as much as I’ve enjoyed writing them. On a personal note, I would like to thank you for reading this far, and for sharing these articles with other blockchain enthusiasts. It has been immensely rewarding to see people offer their support, comments, critiques, and all manner of other reactions. I am humbled and deeply grateful that you took the time to engage with my work.

If I may leave you with a parting thought, it is this: after all is said and done, I see tremendous potential in several of these projects, but I am especially excited about Ardor. Its parent-chain/child-chain architecture simultaneously addresses two very important problems: how to cope with bloat, and how to offer a blockchain as a service to clients who do not have the resources or expertise to start their own blockchains. It is anybody’s guess what economic value markets will ultimately assign to Ardor’s solutions to these problems, but in my humble opinion, Ardor compares quite favorably to the competition on both points. I can’t wait to see what the future holds.


Try Ardor on testnet

About the latest Ardor testnet version

Nxt News – September 2017 (III): The Best Preparation for Tomorrow is Doing Your Best Today

September 2017 (III)

Welcome again, fellow Nxters! Fall is now here and we have the major news of last week. The IGNIS ICO will soon go into the Fourth Round, Riker visits China, and much more. You are in the right place for comprehensive coverage of all things Nxt / Ardor / Ignis.

Whether you are a long time reader or a new one, we here at Nxter have news for you. All the highlights of the last week in the exploding blockchain space are covered here. We aim to keep you informed and up-to-date, dear readers. Lean back and absorb all of our hard work as we present you the news of last week.

NXT COMMUNITY

NXT AE

DEVELOPMENT

NXT IN THE MEDIA

PRICE EVOLUTION

This week's newsletter is put together by James, Jose, apenzl, and rubenbc.


NXT COMMUNITY

  • IGNIS ICO

The IGNIS ICO third round ended last week. All 100 M tokens were purchased. This demonstrates the continued popularity and interest of the ICO and Jelurida thanked all who participated. The fourth round starts this week on September 23rd.

For more in-depth analysis and coverage of the on-going ICO, please follow our exclusive ICO reports that provide excellent coverage and analysis of the ICO.

PR about ICO Promotion

Bounty Portals - Ignis Crowdsale Review
CryptoRated - Top Platforms for Launching an ICO

Source

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  • Token ICOs - Learnings from the Ignis ICO

Riker speaks about Nxt, Ardor and the IGNIS ICO in this informative video, recorded @ the BigchainDB meetup in Berlin.

  • Nxt
  • Smart transactions
  • Proof-of-Stake vs Proof-of-Work
  • NRS Showcase
  • Common problems: Blockchain bloat
  • Common problems: Dual Usage of tokens
  • Problems solved: Introducing the Ardor Platform
  • Ardor Showcase
  • Jelurida's Roadmap - launch, prunability, subnets, etc
  • IGNIS Crowdsale on the blockchain
  • Questions from the audience - AMA

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  • Ardor.World - Nxt Ardor Services

Sergei Chumak has made this interesting webpage as well as a new Telegram bot.

Sergei Chumak:
With this bot you can:- check rates (Nxt, Ardor, Adel)
- check rates (Nxt, Ardor, Adel)
- check balance of your Nxt-account
- subscribe to notifications of receipt of coins and messages to your Nxt-account
- find answers to frequently asked questions of the Nxt-community

Go to https://telegram.me/ardor_world_bot , click start.

So you can press the buttons underneath. Now only available as PM to Ardor World bot. Not in groups yet like the tipper bot nxtswe made for slack.

I added a link to the zip archive of the Nxt blockchain on the site.
https://www.ardor.world/nxt_blockchain/

Source

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  • Ardor vs. the Competition: NEM

A new article in the "Ardor vs. the Competition" article series has been published.

Lisk was the first of this amazing series, now NEM/ Mijin / Catapult is the feature in the second installment by Segsfaultsteve.

Segfaultsteve introduced the series as such:

I recently decided to start a series of posts that compare and contrast Ardor with other blockchain projects that appear to have similar goals or features.

Ardor vs. the Competition, Pt. 2: NEM/Mijin/Catapult

Daegalus - NEM fan

This is a fantastic write-up. Ardor and NEM are two of my favorite coins and I commend the writer for being so neutral and fair.

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  • Chinese Community - Riker is here 

Riker arrived in China to spread news of Ardor to the Chinese public. China is the largest market in the world for blockchain transactions and news. His hosts were very excited to meet him!

Learn more about Lior's days in China from his latest blog posts.

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  • Crypto Woman - Let's Build a Blockchain Together!

Elizabeth, aka CryptoWoman (aka QBTC), was an early contributor in the Nxt community and among the co-founders of Nxt Foundation. In this video, she talks about one of the many uses of the blockchain.

She writes:

I've been excited about the possibilities of the NXT blockchain since 2013!

In November the NXT technology is expanding possibilities with the launch of ARDR. Businesses will be able to either clone NXT or build their own childchain on ARDR. And it's easy! I'm going to show you how. I'm going to build a blockchain and record the whole process and blog about it and talk about it here.

I invite you to join me and the NXT community as we demonstrate how powerful the NXT and ARDR platforms are and how easy they are to set up and use.

Follow me here, on Twitter @TheCryptoWoman or blockchained.business to watch this blockchain develop.

  • Preparing to Build My Blockchain

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  • Meetup in Zurich

Travin Keith announces:

We will be having a casual Nxt/Ardor/Ignis meetup at Sips Pub (Schaffhauserstrasse 380) in Zurich this Friday at 17:00.

If you can come, let me know so we can reserve a big enough table!

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  • Jelurida will Attend "Blockchain Solutions Forum" in Barcelona

Jelurida announced that they will attend the three-day forum in Barcelona.

Other confirmed Nxters that will attend the event are:
RubenBC (Nxter Magazine), VanBreuk (Nxt Foundation), Travin Keith (Nxt Foundation).

Throughout the three-day conference we will give the stage to some pioneering blockchain projects from all over the world. The common thread is that all the presenting companies and persons have decided to raise working capital by launching a token crowd sale (also know as an ICO or ITO). The aim of this session is to gain a deeper understanding of what type of applications are coming on the market, as well as give investors more information about crypto investment opportunities.

Introduced by: Roelof KramerDirector, BECON (Netherlands).

Source

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NXT AE

  • Adel - Status Update

Adel will attend new more conferences and has announced their first official project for incubation; a Crypto Financing Platform.

They write:

Adel is proud to announce the first official project for incubation, called the Crypto Financing Platform.

This will be a Fintech project that will run on the Ethereum Blockchain, utilizing smart contracts. This project has been created by the Adel R&D team, and will be shortly released for idea incubation to the community.

The project aims to offer a blockchain-based application that can provide liquidity to investors and returns for passive holders, in the form of cryptocurrency loans with other cryptocurrencies as collateral.

http://www.ifin.io/

Upcoming Events

Adel will be speaking at the ICO Event in London, on 11th October

Adel also has a speaker slot at the Cryptocurrency World Expo from 1-2 of December 2017, in Warsaw, Poland.

Follow Adel In Medium

 

More info

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  • Bitswift - Status Update

Bitswift updates us:

We finally received credentials to the LG Global Service Front System (LGs partner portal). This means we will be able to sell LG products that require LG authorization on Bitswift.shop, as well as our reps will be able to support LG products and deal with LG warranty matters.  Life is Good.

For the newbs:

Bitswift is an open digital economic ecosystem comprising of community and companies collectively working together, enriching lives through technology.  Bitswift provides a live public road map that allows community transparency and also allow community members to vote on products and features they would like to see in the Bitswift ecosystem. For those interested, business progress and ideas can be found here: https://trello.com/b/7vrDKOSn/bitswift-roadmap

  • Our primary focus at this time is the Bitswift.shop and preparing the brand packs that will be used for onboarding new reps across Canada.

  • We are still looking for developers who are experienced with the Nxt / Ardor API, PM me if you are interested.  Thank you.

September Client Newsletter: http://pr-cdn.oneaffiniti.com/campaign/123865/html/201709-Lenovo-EBG-CA-Bitswift-Technology-Solutions-20170912-123865.html

 

More Info

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  • Janus - Status Update

bjorn_bb:

Right around the end of October/November will be an appropriate time I feel for some blogging again. Things should be in position by that point so the information is clear and public on our current development. Ideally the shift to Ardor will come around the time our work for the year-end delivers. If Ardor isn't ready then we can launch then transition.

Withdraw your balance from ETCBets!

 

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  • Blockchainzoo - The New DeBuNe?

We have been waiting for some time for news of Roberto Capodieci and his asset DeBuNe. The last thing we knew was that DeBuNe needed a rebrand and Roberto was preparing the legal issues associated with an ICO; in which DeBuNe's tokens will have a role. Finally, we have fresh news to announce.

 

Roberto has confirmed his attendance and will be one of the highlights at the next blockchain event organized in Bali on October 27along with other personalities of the blockchain industry.

Learn more about Roberto and DeBuNe here:

DeBuNe – a Decentralised Business Network on the move
DeBuNe - News and Upcoming ICO

More info

 

 

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DEVELOPMENT

  • Monopoly Game Powered by Nxt

In a testament to the creative nature of the Nxt community, a Monopoly app is being built on top of Nxt.

btc2nxt, an early Nxt community member, writes:

There are some computer games using crypto-currencies, like Cryptokingdom, Vox, Augur and so on. Huntercoin is a game on blockchain launched in 2014 based on bitcoin source code. Cutting edge of the Huntercoin is human mining.

In this introduction, I will introduce Monopoly like game powered by Nxt chain. Nearly all coins will be distributed by FSM which is similar to AT (automated machine), after players jump to the location of the coins in next block, they will share the coins. There are lands in the game too, so players can buy lands to build hotel, restaurants, healthy club and weapon factory, which can be traded in asset market in the game also.

Features: Total supply: 1 000 000 000 Premine: 4% (for forge use and marketing) Block time: 1 minute Distribution per block: 600 (100 to dev and marketing) Map: 100*100 Lands: 68 (30 for hotels, 30 restaurants, 1 health club, 1 martial art center, 1 weapon factory¡­) Role of player: jumper (collect coins), boss (owner of hotels), worker (build hotels and so on)

Join the Thread

Github

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NXT IN THE MEDIA

  • Lior Yaffe in Medium - China Update #1 

Follow Riker and his adventure in China as he attends the Meetup.

He writes:

After a short rest, we went to a meetup which was organized by the Australian chamber of commerce (I think) to introduce blockchain startups. Again there was lot’s of good vibes (in spite of the news). Nobody jumped from the roof, everybody talked about their future plan including one Chinese developer who now needs to return 50M$ worth of tokens.

As an added bonus, the team somehow arranged me 5 minutes speech in front of the crowd, in which I pitched NXT and Ardor like there is no tomorrow.

Source

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  • Lior Yaffe in Medium -  China Update #2

The second update on his week in China.

Rainy day in Shanghai

Another busy day in Shanghai, had several meetings, made several useful connections and discovered interesting leads. Some information is bit sensitive so I won’t discuss in detail in this forum. I would only say that the Chinese are already thinking about the day after the exchanges would close and preparing accordingly.

Thanks again to Lege and Ziggy who had the dubious pleasure to follow me around in the rain and traffic jams and for anyone else who was involved in scheduling the meetings.

Source

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  • Lior Yaffe in Medium -  China Update #3

Saturday, started the day, with a long filmed interview with Ding about NXT, Ardor and life in general, this interview will be part of the documentary film prepared by the team. We then had the NXT Shanghai meetup.

Today, after eating a Peking Duck, headed to the Beijing meetup, in a great location with 30–40 attendees.

Source

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  • Donau Universität Krems - Center for Applied Game Studies - and Blockchain Cooperation with Jelurida (Nxt/Ardor) and Synereo (AMPS)

Alexander Pfeiffer, DUK, wrote about their upcoming blockchain cooperation with Jelurida and Synereo:

Doing my research for several month I switched all my developing plans first from Ethereum to Ethereum Classic and finally decided several weeks ago to fully go on Nxt and later Ardor for my plans regarding setting up new ecosystems

I am sure at this point that Ardor will have the same impact on the blockchain as WordPress had for the internet and blogging.

Source

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  • CryptoCoinUpdates - The NXT Blockchain Will Change How We Vote, Transfer Money, and More

Piece by CryptoCoinUpdates on the importance of the NXT blockchain and especially focusing on the importance of the functionality and versatility value:

New Voting Mechanism For A More Honest Future

Nxt has developed a voting mechanism that can transform voting systems all across the world, so that we no longer need to deal with political corruption and inaccurate results. The decentralized nature of blockchain technology provides a potential solution to common voting problems, such as double voting or people’s inability to make it to the polls on election day.

BNP Paribas’s Private Blockchain

BNP Paribas is also experimenting with a private blockchain based on Nxt. In a world that boasts a global economy, there are still many burdens that limit one’s ability to send money or make a purchase from across the world. BNP Paribas utilizes the Nxt technology to develop a blockchain that will ease these burdens among BNP customers, deemed by the company as a “cash without borders project.”

“I truly believe that blockchain technology has the potential to change the world for the better,” said Lior Yaffe, Cofounder and Senior Developer of Jelurida, “The Nxt voting feature, as well as BNP’s adoption of Nxt technology, are just the first steps of many in order to achieve this goal.”

Source

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  • Financemagnates - BNP Paribas and Accenture Spain Test Nxt Blockchain Technology

BNP Paribas is adopting a private Nxt based architecture.

BNP Paribas is also experimenting with a private blockchain based on Nxt, to reduce the limits on one’s ability to send money or make a purchase from across the world. BNP Paribas utilizes Nxt technology to develop a blockchain that will ease burdens among BNP customers, described by the company as a “cash without borders project.

Source

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PRICE EVOLUTION

  • TradingView - NXT

https://www.tradingview.com/chart/NXTUSDT/wfu9Rwn2-NXTUSDT-150-Profit/

NXTUSDT +150% Profit — trading idea and price prediction for NXT / Tether USD (POLONIEX:NXTUSDT) from trader Leniex (2017-09-18).

https://www.tradingview.com/chart/NXTUSDT/aQAiLWy7-NXTUSDT-64-target-profit

NXTUSDT 64% target profit — trading idea and price prediction for NXT / Tether USD (POLONIEX:NXTUSDT) from trader DianKemala (2017-09-18).

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  • TradingView - Long ARDR rock bottom

Ardor has bottomed out, buyers should take control now as the network is preparing for launch and awareness is rising. TP1: 4200 TP2: 5200-6000 TP3: 12000-20000

Source

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  • Weekly NXT/ARDR Price Evolution

The following graphic shows the NXT / Bitcoin exchange price at Poloniex over this past week:

The following graphic shows the ARDR / Bitcoin exchange price at Poloniex over this past week:

Live stats from the Nxt Blockchain Asset Exchange:

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And that is all for this week, Nxters.

Stay tuned next week for more up-to-date coverage on the IGNIS ICO, the launch of Ardor, ongoing projects, and much more. For those who cannot wait a week to learn more, visit our site. We will explain in more detail about Jelurida, Ignis, Ardor, and everything else that is pertinent to this great ICO.

Follow us on Twitter for important breaking updates during the week as they happen. Stay tuned and stay informed, dear readers. See you back here next week!

Help us grow and help us continue to provide excellent and focused coverage on the ever-growing blockchain space by rewarding us for our efforts. Donation address: NXT-TK9J-MEKH-MUP9-HFCH2.

Ardor vs. the Competition, Pt. 2: NEM/Mijin/Catapult

This post is part of a series that compares Ardor to other blockchain projects with similar features or goals. You can find the previous posts here:

This week I studied NEM, a public blockchain similar to Nxt in many ways. As I’m primarily interested in each blockchain project’s approach to scaling, I also researched Mijin, a version of NEM for private blockchains, and Catapult, a rewrite of Mijin which promises large performance gains and which will also be incorporated into future releases of NEM.

NEM

Although NEM’s core developers abandoned their initial plan to start NEM as a fork of Nxt, choosing instead to start the project from scratch, NEM and Nxt are still fairly similar. Like Nxt, the NEM platform provides a predefined set of allowed transactions which applications can use as building blocks to create more complex features, as opposed to using a low-level scripting language to construct transactions, like Bitcoin or Ethereum.

Both platforms support a variety of “blockchain 2.0” features, like sending messages, creating and transfering assets, and sending transactions requiring the approval of multiple accounts (m-of-n multisig). And both platforms expose their functionality through HTTP-based APIs, so developers can use virtually any language to write applications for them.

Despite these similarities, NEM also has some notable differences compared to Nxt.

Perhaps the most fundamental one is its novel consensus algorithm, called proof-of-importance. This algorithm is similar to proof-of-stake, except the probability that an account may harvest (i.e., forge) the next block depends not only on its stake of XEM, which is the native coin on NEM, but also on how recently it has transacted with other accounts and how much XEM was exchanged. Accounts that hold a large stake of XEM and which transact frequently and in high volume harvest more blocks than accounts with less XEM or accounts which only rarely transact.

The authors of the NEM Technical Reference argue that, compared to proof-of-stake, the proof-of-importance algorithm gives somewhat less weight to the wealthiest accounts when determining the right to forge/harvest the next block (Section 7.8). Proof-of-importance is also central to NEM’s spam filter, which requires that an attacker not only control a lot of accounts, which is easy to do, in order to spam the network with a large number of unconfirmed transactions, but also to hold a large stake in each account and transact frequently with other high-importance accounts.

In my view, another main difference between NEM and Nxt is the extent to which each platform’s “blockchain 2.0” features are integrated directly into the API. For example, NEM’s assets, called “mosaics,” share several features with the Nxt Monetary System’s currencies, but NEM does not have a built-in decentralized exchange for mosaics. (As a side note, the NEM Foundation has contracted with Blockchain Global to create a traditional, centralized exchange featuring mosaic-based ICO tokens.) Similarly, while you could certainly build a decentralized marketplace on top of NEM where users could buy and sell goods and services, NEM does not have such a marketplace built into its API the way that Nxt does.

Finally, one subtle but very important difference between NEM and most other blockchains, including Nxt, is the way that it handles multisignature transactions. Instead of allowing any account to generate a multisig transaction, NEM introduces the concept of a multisig account and requires that all multisig transactions originate from such accounts. Any co-signatory on the account can initiate a transaction from it, and the transaction is only executed if a sufficient number of the other co-signatories approve it.

At first this might appear to be a limitation, since it requires a separate multisig account for each set of co-signatories a user wants to cosign with, but it has two key advantages: the multisig account is a full account, capable of receiving payments, messages, and mosaics, for example; and co-signatories can be added and removed, so custody of the multisig account can be transferred. It is possible to create a “1-of-1” multisig account, i.e., an account with a single custodian who can transfer it to a different custodian if desired. In this way, multisig accounts on NEM can act like transferable containers for XEM, mosaics, and messages.

One particularly impressive application of this concept is a notary service built on NEM called Apostille. With Apostille, the process of notarizing a document looks like this:

  1. Hash and sign the name of the document.
  2. Create a multisig account for the document derived from the resulting signature.
  3. Hash and sign the contents of the document.
  4. Send a message containing the result to the document’s multisig account.

Note that the last step also attaches a timestamp to the document, since the transaction that transfers the document’s signed hash to the multisig account is recorded on the blockchain.

As an example of a potential application of Apostille, the authors of the white paper consider a case where the notarized document is a car title. Ownership of the car can be transferred by changing co-signatories on the multisig account that contains the title; messages describing maintenance and repairs can be sent to the multisig account to record the car’s service history; and mosaics issued by governments or insurers could attest to payment of fees. In this way, the multisig account represents both the car itself and the history of other accounts’ interactions with it.

Anyway, that’s quite enough about NEM. Next, Mijin.

Mijin

At a high level, Mijin is a version of NEM that three of the core NEM developers and a company called Tech Bureau developed as a private, permissioned blockchain product. Like any private blockchain–and in contrast to NEM, which is public–a Mijin blockchain is owned and controlled by a central authority, such as a company.

This isn’t the place for a full debate about the utility of private blockchains, but as Mijin and Catapult are an important part of the NEM ecosystem, please indulge me for a minute. In my opinion, the more “private” a private blockchain becomes, the less useful it is. While I can see a case to be made for “consortium” blockchains, where a handful of independent organizations who don’t necessarily trust each other cooperate to secure the network against abuses by any one member of the group, I have trouble seeing the value in a blockchain controlled by a single authority. In my view, a blockchain without trustless consensus is basically just an extremely slow, extremely inefficient database.

I know there are plenty of people who disagree with me, though, so for the remainder of this post I’m going to assume private blockchains have value and that there is a market for them, especially in financial services, which seems to be the main industry that Tech Bureau intends for Mijin to serve.

There is not nearly as much information about Mijin available on the internet as there is about NEM, but I did learn some interesting facts that hint at its potential. For one thing, although Mijin and NEM are completely separate projects, Mijin does share the NEM API (or at least the two APIs overlap substantially), which suggests that it will be relatively easy for developers to write applications that run on either platform. The common API might also facilitate interactions between Mijin chains and the public NEM chain, but I haven’t found any information about the details of those interactions.

Additionally, the Mijin website states that Mijin will support smart contracts, though the Catapult white paper seems to slightly contradict that statement when it says, “the approach here is to make the smart contract an external component, whether centralized (i.e., status quo with existing systems) or decentralized. The outputs of these smart contracts will then enter their transactions into the ledger through a secure transaction process.” To me, this implies that the contracts themselves will be neither stored on the blockchain nor executed by all nodes on the network.

Speaking of Catapult…

Catapult

Catapult is a rewrite of Mijin with a focus on increasing the rate at which transactions can be confirmed. Judging from the white paper (linked above), the first deployments of Catapult will be at banks and other financial institutions, where the author envisions it will replace patchworks of “disjointed monolithic systems” that he says are commonly used today. Eventually, the developers also plan to integrate Catapult into NEM to facilitate scaling the public blockchain as well.

Like Mijin, Catapult is currently closed-source and many technical details are not public. I was able to find some good information digging around the NEM blog, though, especially in this thread by one of the developers.

Catapult divides the work that the network does among three types of nodes:

  • P2P nodes, which add new blocks to the blockchain and maintain consensus about its state;
  • REST nodes, which present client applications with all the features they can use from the Catapult API; and
  • API nodes, which, like P2P nodes, store the blockchain and can read directly from it (I think), but which do not add blocks to it. These nodes serve data to the REST nodes to fulfill client applications’ requests.

This breakdown appears to roughly correspond to the three-tier architecture commonly used for web applications, where the blockchain (P2P nodes) is the database, the REST nodes are the front-end, and the API nodes handle the business logic of interpreting and interacting with data in the database.

If this analogy is correct, then presumably the goal of this architecture is to allow each tier to scale independently. Especially for a private blockchain, the optimal number of P2P nodes used to establish consensus might be much smaller than the number of REST and API nodes required to handle all of the requests that applications send to the network. Delegating these responsibilities to separate nodes on the network should allow nodes of each type to be added or removed as needed to optimize performance.

Apart from this new architecture, Catapult also makes some other optimizations to improve performance. Whereas Mijin and NEM are written in Java and use HTTP for communicating with full nodes, Catapult is being written in C++, and communication between at least the API nodes and REST nodes uses full-duplex sockets (via ZeroMQ), potentially allowing for lower latency than HTTP.

A performance test of three Catapult nodes located in the same datacenter and configured to service requests from 10.8 million accounts showed that the network was able to process just over 3,000 transactions per second. It isn’t completely clear from the press release, but it sounds like each of the three nodes in this test played all three roles: P2P, API, and REST. Confusingly, the accompanying diagram appears to refer to API nodes as “blockchain data ingestion servers” and to REST nodes as “API gateway” servers.

Compared to Ardor

How does NEM compare to Ardor, then?

Really, there are (at least) two separate questions: how do NEM’s features compare to Ardor’s features? And how does NEM’s approach to scaling compare to Ardor’s approach?

Since Ardor (the platform, not the parent chain) will support all of Nxt’s current features, the comparisons I noted above between NEM and Nxt apply equally well to Ardor.

In particular, Ardor’s child chains will have at their disposal a somewhat larger variety of built-in transaction types that support a richer set of features.

For example, NEM does not natively support a peer-to-peer exchange for mosaics, dividend payments to mosaic holders, transactions conditioned on votes by mosaic holders (or most of Nxt’s phased transaction types, for that matter), account properties, a decentralized marketplace, or anything like Nxt’s shuffling and alias systems.

Ardor’s parent-chain/child-chain architecture will add some extra functionality, too.

In particular, users will be able to exchange different child chain tokens for one another directly, without first converting to ARDR. This will be especially useful on pegged child chains, where users will be able to trade dollar-pegged coins directly for bitcoin-pegged coins (for example), whereas on NEM, somebody holding a dollar-pegged mosaic would have to sell it for XEM, then buy a bitcoin-pegged mosaic.

These differences notwithstanding, NEM still offers a rich set of features that application developers can use in interesting ways. Perhaps the best example is Apostille’s creative use of NEM’s unique multisig accounts. I’m not sure how easy it would be to replicate that kind of functionality on Ardor.

[EDIT]: Lior Yaffe, core dev and co-founder of Jelurida, has the following comment:

With NXT this can be achieved by issuing a singleton asset for each license registration and sending it between accounts.

On the question of how to scale, the two platforms differ much more dramatically.

Catapult’s approach, which NEM will eventually incorporate, is twofold: a new three-tier architecture to distribute the network’s responsibilities among three specialized types of nodes; and a series of application-level optimizations, e.g., using C++ instead of Java. We will need to defer judgment of the latter approach until additional benchmarking tests are available, but we can still cautiously speculate about the implications of the new architecture.

The biggest advantage seems to be for private blockchains, where the owner can fine-tune the quantities of the three types of nodes and the topology of the network to optimize throughput. Moreover, in such a context, blockchain bloat isn’t as severe a problem as it is for a public blockchain since companies can easily dedicate terabytes of storage on their servers to storing the blockchain.

The improvement in NEM’s performance with this new architecture, on the other hand, is much harder to predict. It is not clear whether each peer on the network would have to run all three services (P2P, API, REST) or just one of the three. In the former case, the scaling advantage to the new architecture would presumably be lost. In the latter case, the classic trade-off between speed (fewer P2P nodes, more API and REST nodes) and security (greater fraction of P2P nodes) would remain. And since nobody could control the number of each type of node on a public network, the question of what the optimal balance is would be moot.

In contrast, Ardor’s design does not try to achieve the highest possible throughput, at least initially. Rather, Ardor’s main scaling goal is to greatly reduce the size and rate of growth of the blockchain. It does this using a unique parent-chain/child-chain architecture, where all nodes on the network validate all transactions, but only those belonging to accounts holding the parent chain coin (ARDR) forge. Since the child chain coins can’t be used to forge, the child chains’ transaction history is irrelevant to the security of the network and can be pruned away.

It is worth noting, however, that computational scaling is on the Ardor roadmap.

Specifically, it is possible that child chain transaction processing will be delegated to separate subnets of the Ardor network in the future, allowing most nodes to ignore most transactions.

Conclusion

Ardor and NEM both offer rich, largely overlapping sets of features.

Overall, my impression is that developers will probably be able to build similarly complex applications on either blockchain with comparable ease. In that sense, the two platforms are direct competitors.

In their approaches to scaling, though, Ardor and NEM are quite different.

While Catapult will likely achieve a significant improvement in the rate that private blockchains can confirm transactions, I am somewhat more skeptical of the performance improvement that can be achieved on a public blockchain like NEM using the same approach.

Ardor, on the other hand, does not attempt to address the computational scaling problem (for now), but has found a very effective solution to the problem of blockchain bloat.

I suppose time will tell whether computational scaling or blockchain bloat is ultimately going to pose the biggest long-term problem for blockchain tech, and time will also tell whether either platform has found an adequate solution.

NXT Market Report: 3 November 2014

Welcome to this week’s market report. We’ll start by having a look at last week’s price development: NXT decreased in price by 12.8% whereas Bitcoin declined by 7.1%. The trading volume has been stable on a low level with an average of about USD 40’000 mainly traded on Bter, hitbtc and BTC38, which is a little bit disappointing but not surprising. The week’s peak of USD 95’000 was reached on 31 October.

Nevertheless there is plenty of good news: The upcoming launch of NRS 1.4, which will include the monetary system and probably the voting system as well; the successful launch of Nxtty (which has already had a nice effect on the amount of transactions and the number of newly created accounts) and James writing code without pause in order to get SuperNET up and running as fast as possible. We therefore have some good reasons to stay positive about the development and the price of NXT!

source: coinmarketcap.com

Get published. Get paid – The first period has come to an end

October is over and the the first period’s accounts have been published. We are proud to announce a dividend of 0.024826 NXT per NXTP. The amount available for distribution was affected by the payment back of loans to apenzl of about 9’334 NXT and we therefore expect next month’s dividend to be bigger. If you’d like the opportunity of getting paid for your NXT- related news or views, go ahead and submit your contribution to nxter.org! For more information on how to do so, read our guide.

neoDICE to go into public beta within the next days

neoDICE, the fair betting game similar to the legendary satoshiDice, will be going into public beta within the next few days according to the developer, hash. The project is slightly behind schedule but is widely expected to be a huge success when released:

Mid. October:                         Beta testing starts.

Beginning of November Release of the game on the mainnet, playable via NXT client and SuperNET GUI.

Mid. November                     Release of neoDICE plugin for NXT client and SuperNET GUI.

Mid. December                      Release of the neoDICE website, allowing gameplay without NXT client.

For more information about this project read: NXT Market Report 29 September and NXT Market Report 15 September.

What’s going on in the NXT Asset Exchange?

NEMstake: after the announcement of the NEM Beta client, NEMstake saw a huge rise in price up to 45’000 NXT per stake but has now fallen back to about 38’000 NXT. For a detailed explanation of the redemption process for NEMstake asset owners on the NXT Asset Exchange, read this message on the NEMcoin forum.

In summary:

  1. using the NEM Beta client, create a real NEM address and save the address, the public key and the private key in a secure place – if you lose your private key, you lose your NEM.
  2. Send your NEMstake asset to NXT-97MX-EWKV-CGKX-DA5WH including an unencrypted message containing just the NEM account address which you created in step 1.

You will find another guide to the NEMstake redemption process in the nxtforum as well. Make sure to redeem your stake as soon as possible.

The deadline to redeem your NEMstake asset at the rate of 1 asset for 1,000,000 NEM is the 22 November – the longer you wait after that, the less NEM per NEMstake asset you will receive:

After 22 November, redemption will be possible for a further 3 months. However, during this period the amount of NEM per redeemed NEMstake will be reduced as follows.

  • during the 1st month after 22 November: 1 NEM stake = 750 000 NEM.
  • during the 2nd month after 22 November: 1 NEM stake = 500 000 NEM.
  • during the 3rd month after 22 November: 1 NEM stake = 250 000 NEM.

Once the 3 months are over, any remaining NEMstakes will not longer be redeemable.

Various possibilities as to how the unclaimed NEM would be used (including for example redistribution to NEM holders, sending to genesis, ecosystem development) are currently under discussion here.

I hope you enjoyed a good read – please leave your feedback here!

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